Qala i Naw (Afghanistan): Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy said here during an unannounced trip to Afghanistan that Spain's economy will improve next year and start growing again in 2014.
Rajoy made the comments Saturday at the Qala i Naw base in western Afghanistan, the last stop on his pre-Christmas visit with Spanish troops deployed to the Asian country.
He said Spain is undergoing a "difficult moment" but that the situation will improve "if we all work together with determination and live up to our obligations".
The prime minister, who said the soldiers were a role model of that commitment, ended the ceremony with a toast to Spanish King Juan Carlos, the armed forces and the nation.
Rajoy was joined by Defense Minister Pedro Morenes on his first visit to the troops in Afghanistan since taking office a year ago.
The Spanish economy remains hampered by the fallout from the collapse of a long-building housing bubble, which left many of its banks saddled with toxic assets.
The unemployment rate in Spain, currently in the grips of a double-dip recession, stands at 25.02 percent overall and more than 50 percent among young people.
First Published: Monday, December 24, 2012, 11:13